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Vietnam’s response to climate change reinforce

Climate change would trigger harsher weather extremes in Vietnam in the coming time as it has in the past 50 years caused sea level in the country rising by 20 cm and average temperature up 0.5 degree Celsius.

At a seminar to review a project on national response capacity to climate change in Hanoi on September 20, Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Tran Hong Ha reasserted that Vietnam is one of the countries hardest affected by climate change, especially sea level rise.

The adoption of a resolution, a target programme, a strategy and a plan of action at national scale together with action plans issued by ministries, sectors and localities showed how serious Vietnam is in tackling climate change, the Government official said.

Head of the Hydrometeorology and Environment Institute Tran Thuc said the project’s four-year operation has contributed sizably to the building of the national strategy, the national target programme and the action plan in response to climate change.

The project, which also involved in how to reduce vulnerability and control green house gas emissions, has helped build up documents and technical guidelines to support activities to cope with climate change in Vietnam, Thuc added.

UNDP representative Bakhodir Burkhavov said the project worked to strengthen the policy-building capacity and scientific research on climate change as well as raising awareness and training human resources for the issue.

The same day, a discussion on how concerned parties can involve in appraising environmental impacts took place in Hanoi.

Participants voiced that an important step to verify environmental impact appraisal outcome that is to consult the community at the project site is seemingly neglected.

toadam-dtm

Photo: PanNature.

As such consultation is not yet legalised, the role and participation of local people and social organisations have not been paid due attention, the participants observed.

The consultation and information publicity regarding environmental impact appraisal has been regulated in the revised Law on Environmental Protection since 2005. However, shortcomings in implementing the activity remained.

The event was jointly held by the People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), the Asia Foundation and the Vietnam Forum of Environmental Journalists (VFEJ).

Source: VietnamPlus

Environment law lifts green ethos

Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen has urged that environmental planning must be part of the country’s plans for socio-economic development.

Speaking at a conference earlier this month on a revision to the Law of Environmental Protection (2005), the Minister said the focus would create a better foundation for the implementation of environmental protection measures.

“This is a key measure to better the legal framework for environmental protection,” he said.

02-moi-truongTonnes of litter left on the Tan Hoa – Lo Gom canal through Hoa Binh Street in HCM CIty’s Tan Phu District. Environmental planning must be part of the country’s plans for socio-economic. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai

In an effort to encourage greater commitment to environmental protection, the deputy minister stressed the need for strategic environment assessment (SEA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA) for major project.

Tuyen also said the responsibilities of households, producers and service providers in trade villages and local authorities would be clarified.

Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Sciences, Technology and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan said current regulations on environmental protection struggled with overlapping management, a lack of co-ordination between relevant agencies and increasing environmental violations.

He expected that the revision of the 8-year-old law on Environmental Protection, including measures such as SEA and EIA, would address the limitations.

Deputy President of the Viet Nam Association for Environment and Nature Protection Pham Ngoc Dang agreed that preventative measures constituted an important factor in protecting the environment.

However, Dang expressed concerns that current environmental impact assessments seemed to provide few suggestions for enhancing proposed projects, even though there was a visible impact on the local environment.

Warning against the long-term serious consequences, Dang said most environmental-impact reports were used to complete procedures facilitating the implementation of projects.

However, participants at the conference showed concern that environmental impact assessments (EIA) would unfairly focus on the direct negative effects on the natural environment, urging a more comprehensive assessment of social and developmental gains.

Tran Hoang Phuong from PanNature, a Vietnamese conservation organization, said that the EIA should be developed in line with its project investment initiative.

She added that it was necessary to improve capacity to evaluate EIA and encourage the engagement of the public and local authorities in deciding to develop projects.

Regulations on social impacts including effects on local resident livelihood, transparency of public information and monitoring also needed to be added to the revision, Phuong said.

According to the Environmental Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, nearly 25,000 environmental violations were detected across the country in the last three years, of which, 350 violations were prosecuted and fined nearly VND200 billion (US$9.5 million).

About 60 per cent of waste water in industrial zones go untreated before being discharged into the environment, including the Dong Nai River in the south and Cau, Nhue and Day rivers in the north.

About 70 per cent of factories located along these rivers do not take measures for environmental protection and waste water treatment systems.

All trade villages were found to violate environmental regulations, including the need for waste treatment systems.

Source: Vietnam News

Consensus – key to protect lower Mekong River

As a nation in the lower Mekong River basin, Vietnam potentially bears serious impacts from programmes and development projects deployed on the mainstream of the upper river, and therefore needs to put forward solutions to deal with different development scenarios.

Vietnam’s territory accounts for eight percent of the basin’s total area and 11 percent of its total water volume.

The territory, which is home to 20 million Vietnamese people, includes the source of Nam Ron River in northern Dien Bien province, the upper Se Kong and Se Ba Hieng Rivers, the Se San and Srepok River basins, and the Mekong River Delta.

Development in the Mekong River’s upper area will have environmental and social impacts on the lower Mekong River.

Under the Strategic Environmental Assessment of Hydropower on the Mekong Mainstream conducted by the International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM), Vietnam may suffer greater economic losses if a dam system is constructed on the mainstream.

Xayaburi-photo

The Mekong River in Laos. Photo: PanNature.

The construction would result in a reduction in the river’s water volume in the dry season, which combined with climate change impacts and rising sea water levels will lead to increased sea-water intrusion and affect the Mekong River Delta’s agriculture and aquaculture sectors.

It will also reduce the amount of silt from 26 to seven million tonnes per year to seven million tonnes annually, while the delta’s aquatic sector will see an annual estimated loss between 500 million and one billion USD.

According to Tran Thi Thanh Thuy from People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) – a non-governmental organisation dedicated to protecting the environment, Vietnam may execute solutions to deal with the losses by stepping up cooperation through the Mekong River Commission.

The Agreement on the Cooperation for Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin has been the best cooperation framework to exchange, negotiate and seek consensus on issues relating to the basin’s development.

The Vietnam National Mekong Committee needs to improve its organising capacity, implement programmes and projects to survey impacts, and seek out solutions to support Government policymaking and cooperation with other countries in the region.

Vietnam needs to create consensus in the ASEAN community on the orientations of the basin’s development, she added.

It should also encourage social organisations and non-governmental organisations to enhance national and regional cooperation and dialogues so as to create social support and consensus to protect local people in the basin and Vietnam in particular.

The country must cooperate with sponsors and partners from Laos and Cambodia to seek optimal and sustainable development solutions that are in line with each country.

With its experience in economic growth and poverty reduction, Vietnam could help neighbouring countries apply the development models effectively, and avoid any negative impacts that may emerge in the process of development.

The efficient implementation of programmes, investment projects and development aid is another critical solution. As investors, Vietnamese enterprises need to study and apply international standards to their projects deployed in neigbouring countries to minimise environmental and social consequences.

Vietnam’s ways to rationally deal with the issues depends on each development scenario. However, the most crucial factor is still a consensus on development cooperation between relevant countries to protect the lower Mekong River, Thuy stressed.

Source: VietnamPlus

Conservation hell Vietnam pulls plug on park’s UNESCO recognition

In what was apparently a face-saving move, Vietnam opted to withdraw its nomination of a major national park for UNESCO heritage status two days ahead of an annual session that opened June 16 in Cambodia.

But even if Vietnam had gone ahead with nominating the Cat Tien National Park, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization would have probably rejected it following a recommendation to the effect by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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Mekong Resources Forum II Video Report

A video report produced by the Communication Department of PanNature on the second Mekong Resources Forum organized on 10th May 2013 in Tam Dao town, Vinh Phuc, Vietnam. Mekong Resources Forum is an initiative that aims to facilitate meaningful dialogues among regional organizations in the Lower Mekong Region. This non-state platform includes a wide variety of dialogues, exchanges, and cooperation activities built upon mutual interests and power of knowledge for bettering natural resource governance in the region.

Incentives key to forest protection

Like many farmers living near the Ngoc Son-Ngo Luong Nature Reserve, Bui Van Benh of the Muong ethic group used to go into the forest to collect timber when he wanted to build a new house.

“We rely on the forests not only for timber but also firewood, foodstuff, medicine… everything,” he said.

The reserve, situated to the southwest of Ha Noi, is surrounded by a community of 12,300 Muong people. The group has a long tradition of living in stilt houses made of sturdy wooden beams and walls. It is estimated that to build such a house, it takes from 15 to 20 cubic metres of timber.

There was a period not so long ago when dozens of houses sprang up each year, creating remarkable pressure on the reserve’s forestry resources. Even though it was illegal to harvest timber inside the reverse, local residents still managed to obtain timber to build houses.

The situation was made worse as better roads enabled illegal logging and trade to flourish.

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Mr. Nguyen Viet Dung of PanNature opens the workshop “Co-management of Special-use Forests in Vietnam: Pratices and Policy Implications” organized in Hoa Binh in May 24th. Photo: PanNature.

“Logging became a common occurrence, despite our round-the-clock patrol efforts,” recalled Bui Binh Yen, a member of the reserve’s management board.

He said locals turned to logging because they had no alternative. The main source of income for them was from agriculture. However, the rice yields were low due to the limestone soil, and after the reserve was established in 2005, the natural forests belonged to the reserve and was not open for exploitation.

“This created even more drive for them to exploit the forests,” he said.

A survey made by PanNature, a local nature conservation NGO, pointed out that after the establishment of the reserve, the majority of local residents understood that the forests were no longer theirs, so they had no responsibility to protect them. That was the business of forest rangers and local authorities.

In 2010, faced with increasing threats on forestry resources, the reserve’s management put in place a new mechanism which emphasised the role of the local community in forest protection.

cm-workshop-02

The recent workshop discussed multi-facetted aspects around co-management of protected areas. Photo: PanNature.

“The local community was urged to get involved in the process along with other stakeholders. We discussed and came up with an agreement on the responsibilities of protecting the forests,” Yen said.

A radical element of this agreement was that the community would be granted a number of benefits if they could deliver their commitment.

For example, they would receive allowances for patrolling the forests, and allocated some of the land to cultivate. They would also be given preferential policies such as access to loans, training and developing social infrastructure.

Locals would be also instructed to use forest resources in a sustainable way.

When the agreement was signed, it created a major shift in the attitude towards forests among locals. They went on patrols with forest rangers on a monthly basis. During these patrols, they helped detect hundreds of violation cases and confiscated timber.

Yen said: “The results are very encouraging. Members of the community who signed the agreement have stopped logging and poaching.”

Viet Nam National Parks and Protected Areas Association Secretary General Le Van Lanh said engaging different stakeholders to take part in protecting forests was a promising approach because it included both the responsibilities and rights of those involved.

However, Nguyen Viet Dung from PanNature said the adoption of such an approach was limited because it did not have sufficient legal support. But a number of new legal documents have been an encouraging move because they paved the way to expanding the success story at Ngoc Son-Ngo Luong Nature Reserve.

As farmer Benh put it: “If we can make a living out of the forests, I see no reason why we won’t protect them.”

Source: VietnamNews

Yesterday mining tells on Vietnam today

The report which has been released by the environment organization PanNature showed how Vietnam has to pay the penalty for the natural mineral exploitation, hailed as a key industry which creates more jobs, enriches the local budgets and helps eliminate hunger and reduce poverty.

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Second Mekong Resources Forum opens

The second Mekong Resources Forum on investment cooperation and the sustainable development of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) – was held in the northern province of Vinh Phuc on May 10, 2013.

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Another five-needle pine species discovered in Vietnam

The third among world’s five-needle pine species, after Pinus dalatensis and Pinus kwangtungensis, has been recorded for Vietnam in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve, Son La province. The white pine with large cones and wingless seeds was preliminarily identified as Pinus armandii. Its current conservation status is assessed as Critically Endangered (CR), requiring immediate protection. In addition to conservation values, this pine species also has potential uses in forest plantation for timber and for edible seeds.

Habitat of new pine

Forest habitat in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve. 

In bonsai art five-needle pines are considered as a symbol of strength and beauty due to its neat and solid looking trunk, with fresh green coniferous foliage harmoniously arranged on the branches. The five-needle pines are used to create many bonsai shapes, ranging from simple to complex, from modest to sophisticated, but wherever the tree always reserves its noble but very lively contemplation.

Five-needle pines have been on top of dream collections of many Vietnamese bonsai growers. Some enthusiasts spend lots of money trying to get a specimen of the five-needle pine from China or Japan in their bonsai collection. However, these pines cannot tolerate climate and soil conditions in lowland of Vietnam. Therefore, many bonsai lovers eventually lost their trees after one or two years of unsuccessful cultivation.

However, not many bonsai growers know that there are five-needle pines growing naturally in forests of Vietnam. Vietnam has not one but three species of five-needle pines. Two species Pinus dalatensis and Pinus kwangtungensis have been known since the French colonial time. In January 2013, a research team of PanNature discovered a population of another five-needle pine species in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve in Son La province. The pine species grows relatively straight with height from15 – 25 m and diameter at breast level reaches 0.8 m.

Specimen collection

Collection of specimens of the five-needle pine.

Different from Pinus kwangtungensis, this new pine has leaf bundles with very long needles of 12 – 24 cm, drooping down. Seed cones are quite large with length of 7-10 cm and diameter of 5-7 cm, containing many big seeds of 0.5 x 1 cm in average size. Particularly, seeds of this species do not have real wings.

The population of the five-needle pine in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve grows in a nearly pure stand with total estimated number of mature trees around 200 individuals in an area of approximately 6 square km. This is a mountainous area of altitude from 900 to 1,200 m on clay soil developing on mother sandy stones. Mature individuals of this pine distribute quite evenly in the area. Regenerating saplings are very rare. Only 3 young seedlings (two year old) were observed. Under the pine canopy there is a layer of shrubs and small trees of 2-3 m high, including species of families Theaceae, Lauraceae and dense clumps of small bamboos and tall grasses.

In lower elevation down of the pine ridge, there are primary evergreen forests with occurrence of other conifer species such as Podocarpus neriifolius and Dacrycarpus imbricatus. On the cliffs of the revealed sand stones an interesting slipper orchid has been found. The leaves of the orchid are of white-green color with dark-green spots. Although its flowers were not observed, the orchid is premilinarily identified as Paphiopedilum appletonianum, an orchid species normally found in the Central Highland.

The newly discovered five-needle pine species has many distinctive characteristics as compare to the known Pinus dalatensis and Pinus kwangtungensis. Based on the collected specimens and existing information, it has been preliminary identified by taxonomic experts as Pinus armandii, or the Chinese White Pine.

In China, this pine species distributes from Southern Shandong to Southern Gansu in the West and to Southern Yunnan in the South, with some isolated populations in Anhui and Taiwan. The species is also found in the North of Myanmar.

The new population of Pinus armandii found in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve therefore is the furthest distribution in the South of this species and is separated from the nearest population in Yunnan. This feature suggests that the pine in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve may belong to another variety rather than the white pine in China. Additional study should be done to clarify the taxonomic position of this pine species.

Chinese White Pine is named after the French missionaries and naturalist Armand David, who was the first one introduced the tree into Europe. The species now is planted as a horticultural tree in parks and gardens in Europe and Northern America. The pine also plays important role in forest plantation in some areas in China. Seeds of this pine are collected and sold as edible food. Wood of this species is used in general construction.

The population of five-needle pine in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve is the only known population of this species in Vietnam. Since it has a limited number of individuals, small area of occurrence, low regeneration ability due to wingless seeds, we recommend that the pine should be categorized as Critically Endangered (CR) in Vietnam. Pinus armandii should be included in the national list of endangered species for strict protection for its valuable genetic resource. At the same time, research on propagation and cultivation of the pine as a new potential tree for forest plantation in the Northwestern region should also be considered.

Below are some photos of the five-needle pine in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve. Photo credit should be given to Minh Xuan/PanNature if used.

 Pine stump

Pine stump.

 Pine trunk

Pine trunk.

 Pine canopy

Pine canopy.

  Young cones

Pine young cones.

 Pine seeds

Pine seeds.

 Pine cone branch

Pine cone branch.

Video Report: Co-management of Special-use Forests in Vietnam

A 20-minute video report with reflection of project staff (FFI and PanNature), national and provincial partners, protected area managers, rangers, and local communities on different aspects of co-management of special-use forests. This is part of the project implemented by FFI and PanNature with generous support from EU and the Ford Foundation.

People and Nature Reconciliation | Office: 24 H2, Khu do thi moi Yen Hoa
Yen Hoa quarter, Cau Giay district, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: ++8424 3556-4001 | Fax: ++8424 3556-8941 | Email: contact@nature.org.vn